The Collider: History

The Collider: 2017 Year in Review

The Collider: 2016 Year in Review

The Collider officially opened its doors in March 2016 in Asheville, North Carolina – Climate City. We invite you to join in celebrating a great first year by taking a look back at some of the milestones. Thank you for your continued support.

January / February 2016: The Collider begins to take shape

Construction at The Collider - January 2016

Construction at The Collider on the top floor of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Asheville. (January 2016)

♦ The long-held dream of a space where public, private, academic, and nonprofit businesses and organizations can “strategically collide” to develop market-driven solutions for climate begins to take shape.

♦ Following President Obama’s State of the Union address, The Collider announces its readiness to answer the challenge for private investment in climate action., a story that was picked up by the publication Southeast Green, among others.

♦ Along with other partners in climate services and the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe, The Collider participates in touting Asheville as “Climate City” at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society.

♦ While our building remains under construction one of our inaugural members, UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling & Analysis Center, is featured on UNC-TV prior to their move to The Collider.

March 2016: Featured in Forbes, among other media, The Collider opens its doors with U.S. Secretary of Transportation as keynote

Launch of The Collider, March 2016

The Collider launches with an event attended by some 230 public, private, nonprofit, and academic leaders on March 11, 2016.

♦ Before we officially open our doors, a crowd of more than 100 joins the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (which awarded The Collider with grant monies from the Tourism Product Development Fund) for an event on March 3 at The Collider.

♦ The Collider hosts our official launch on March 11 (the birthday of visionary and founding philanthropist Mack Pearsall) with keynote speaker U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

♦ The launch event, attended by some 230 members of the climate services community along with business, civic, academic and elected leaders, garners significant media coverage, including Politico (with the header “Coworking to save the planet”), Bloomberg Government, and even a TV station in Hawaii.

♦ The Collider is featured in a Forbes commentary that says, “…The community that is emerging around The Collider sees climate change as an opportunity, one that can put this growing network of climate innovators and scientists smack in the middle of a growing $1 trillion dollar industry.”


♦ The Collider hosts a two-day retreat for 35 members of the Data Access Branch of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

♦ A New York City-based tech blog mentions The Collider as part of its spotlight on Asheville’s startup and innovation scene.

♦ The Asheville Citizen-Times publishes a front-page Sunday profile of The Collider’s founding philanthropist Mack Pearsall with the headline, “Asheville’s ‘impatient philanthropist’ sets sights on climate jobs.”

♦ Thought leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators gather at The Collider to discuss the growing tech ecosystem in the Asheville community as part of an Innovation Economies event with a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

♦ The Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer tout The Collider as a place where “Asheville entrepreneurs are making a business out of climate change.”

April 2016: Dignitaries, climate scientists, and celebrating Earth Day

UNC President Margaret Spellings with UNC Asheville Chancellor Mary Grant visit The Collider, April 2016

University of North Carolina President Margaret Spellings with UNC Asheville Chancellor Mary Grant visit The Collider. (April 2016)

♦ Climate scientists from around the globe, including Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, England, Ireland, Japan, China, and France, conduct a series of meetings over four days at The Collider.

♦ The Collider welcomes University of North Carolina President Margaret Spellings and UNC Asheville Chancellor Mary Grant for a tour of The Collider.

♦ Public, private and academic leaders participating in Leadership North Carolina spend a full day at The Collider for their Environment Session.

♦ Graduate and undergraduate students in the NOAA/NASA DEVELOP program present project results at an event at The Collider. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports with the headline, “Collider-related programs already yielding new Asheville jobs.”

♦ The Asheville chapter of the American Meteorological Society conducts a public program on “The Story of Climate” at The Collider.


♦ The Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects – North Carolina meet at The Collider and hear a report on a 2015 symposium organized by The Collider and AIA – Asheville on Climate Resilient Design and plans for another such event in 2016.

♦ The Climate Listening Project hosts a sold-out Earth Day celebration at The Collider and premieres their new project video.

♦ A handful of Collider cowork members meets for an informal coffee hour later dubbed the PercCollider.

♦ Community leaders with Asheville HUB Alliance meet at The Collider for a presentation on Asheville’s potential for economic development in the environmental and climate services cluster.

May 2016: Venue rentals range from Leadership Asheville to east coast sales management training for a national corporation

The PercCollider, a weekly coffee hour for Collider members and the climate services community

The PercCollider, a weekly coffee hour for Collider members and the climate services community, continues to grow!

♦ Members of the 34th Class of Leadership Asheville make their final group presentations at a Graduation Day event at The Collider. (LA 35 returns to The Collider in January 2017 for a full-day focus on economic development.)

♦ UNC Asheville Magazine features a story on the university’s National Environmental Modeling & Analysis Center (NEMAC) and its new location at The Collider.

♦ Meanwhile, Business North Carolina magazine publishes a story on The Collider in its 35th anniversary edition.

♦ The London-based CEO of Acclimatise, which has its North America office at The Collider, speaks in The Netherlands at the largest ever climate change adaptation conference.

♦ The Dogwood Alliance, a national, Asheville-based nonprofit focused on forest protection, conducts a staff retreat at The Collider – the first of several events the organization holds at The Collider.

♦ The start of a two-day tour of the area’s technology cluster takes place at The Collider, organized for economic developers and site selectors by the Economic Develop Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County.

♦ Among the venue rentals for major events this month are a three-day sales management conference involving businesspeople from up the Eastern Seaboard and a private evening reception hosted by a local company for their top customers.

♦ The weekly PercCollider continues to grow, with Collider members joined by university students, special guests, and others interested in learning about The Collider. (As many as 75 individuals have been known to join in, sometimes with a special presentation or sponsor as part of the event.)

JUNE 2016: Trillions magazine describes The Collider as “the beginning of a revolution in how to deal with the biggest problem the world has ever known…”

Trillions Magazine features The Collider in a cover story, June 2016

Trillions Magazine features The Collider in its June 2016 cover story about climate change.

♦ Trillions magazine publishes an article about The Collider that starts like this: “Right in the middle of downtown Asheville, North Carolina, is a somewhat ordinary-looking building. Inside, however, is something far from ordinary. It is the beginning of a revolution, in how to deal with the biggest problem the world has ever known – climate change, and in how to bring together a group to help solve it.”

♦ Both public radio station WCQS’s Board of Directors and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center Western Region’s Advisory Committee conduct meetings at The Collider.

♦ A professional development panel discussion with NASA DEVELOP Interns from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, the University of Virginia Wise County, and the University of Georgia takes place at The Collider.

♦ Inaugural Collider member FernLeaf Interactive is one of 15 companies selected for Elevate, an elite mentoring program developed by Venture Asheville that targets businesses with potential to service national and global markets.

♦ Thanks to the efforts of the nonpartisan Citizens Climate Lobby, U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry, serving the 10th district of NC, tours The Collider and learns about the work of our members and Asheville’s climate services community.

JULY 2016: NOAA Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Dr. Kathy Sullivan tours The Collider

Dr. Kathy Sullivan and Collider building owner Claire Callen - July 2016

During a tour of The Collider, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan (right) speaks to our building owner, Claire Callen (July 2016).

♦ NOAA Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Dr. Kathy Sullivan, with NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Richard W. Spinrad, tour The Collider and meet personally with some of our members.

♦ With the headline “Globe Turning to Asheville’s tech to help assess flood risks,” the Asheville Citizen-Times reports on UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling & Analysis Center (NEMAC), located at The Collider, winner of the “Special Achievement in GIS Award” from Esri, a world leader in geographic information system technology.

♦ The Citizen-Times follows that article with an editorial titled “Asheville continues rise as climate science powerhouse.”

♦ A Mountain Xpress cover story about Asheville’s climate services industry features The Collider and several of our members and partners, complete with archival photos of the early days of NOAA in Western North Carolina.

♦ The Center for Weather and Climate, part of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, moves its monthly State of The Climate briefing to The Collider, where it continues to be held each month.


♦ Among the groups using our venues at The Collider is Dixon Hughes Goodman, conducting an executive briefing on sustainability best practices for 40 corporate CEOs, and the NC Department of Transportation, conducing a statewide meeting.

♦ Mack Pearsall, founding philanthropist of The Collider, with his wife Janice, establish an apprenticeship program in honor of Dr. Tom Karl, upon Dr. Karl’s retirement as Director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The first two student interns in the program start their work at The Collider in January 2017.

♦ A delegation from Kazakhstan travels to The Collider to meet with member Eyes on Earth, a company that uses satellite observations to monitor water resources, crop development, and predict yields around the world.

August 2016: New CEO; first Beer City Science Pub; and journalists from the Southeast and beyond learn about the business of climate

Science Journalists at The Collider

Science and business journalists from as far away as Cincinnati and Delaware come to Asheville and The Collider to learn about the business and science of climate. (August 2016)

♦ James McMahon is named the new CEO of The Collider. Most recently serving as senior advisor to Dr. Tom Karl, the Director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, James is recognized as a “boundary expert” with experience as a climate scientist in the public and academic settings, as well as a business executive, having held leadership positions in companies ranging from small startups to a Fortune 500 corporation.

♦ The Collider hosts the project results of high school students in the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy and of university students and young professionals in the NOAA/NASA DEVELOP research program.

♦ Public radio WCQS and the Asheville Citizen-Times interview climate scientist Dr. L. DeWayne Cecil, whose office is located at The Collider, about his role in an upcoming expedition to locate Amelia Earhart’s aircraft.

♦ In partnership with Asheville Museum of Science, The Collider hosts its first Beer City Science Pub, focused on the Amelia Earhart expedition, resulting in the largest attendance ever, to-date for the AMOS event. The partnership continues monthly with lectures on a variety of science-related topics and craft beer donated by local breweries, continuing to draw large, enthusiastic crowds.


♦ Collider members CASE Consultants International and FernLeaf Interactive partner to develop a new online tool showing areas where the environmental conditions are right for the mosquito that can carry the Zika virus, garnering significant media coverage.

♦ Supported by a grant from the National Association of Science Writers, a climate conference for journalists organized by Duke University and The Collider, along with a host of other institutions, draws reporters across the Southeast and from as far away as Washington DC, Delaware, Cincinnati, and Louisville KY to explore The Business and Science of Climate in the Southern Appalachians.” The event includes an evening at The Collider to meet with our climate solution providers.

♦ Among the organizations using The Collider space this month for executive retreats are a national company with expertise in vehicle data systems and a regional health education organization.

September 2016: Lectures on coffee + climate change and health + climate change, along with a visit by Chelsea Clinton on clean energy

Collider CEO James McMahon speaking to crowd - September 2016

The CEO of The Collider, James McMahon, speaks to a capacity crowd gathered to hear Chelsea Clinton speak on clean energy. (September 2016)

♦ The campaign for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton contacts The Collider seeking to bring daughter Chelsea Clinton to Asheville to host a clean energy event at The Collider. The event draws nearly 300 supporters and regional media outlets. Local media coverage includes public radio WCQS (also here), WLOS-TV (also here) and Asheville Citizen-Times.

♦ In a cover story titled “A Catalyst for Change,WNC Magazine’s innovation issue focuses on The Collider and our partners in the climate services industry, and why experts are looking to Asheville for solutions to climate change. The magazine hosts a launch party at The Collider to celebrate the edition, attended by more than 100 leaders in business and climate services.

♦ Managers with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information conduct a four-day retreat at The Collider.

♦ Renowned sustainability leader and president of the Cradle to Cradle Institute Lewis Perkins speaks at The Collider as part of Krull & Company’s annual lecture series.

♦ The Collider hosts a lecture on the impacts of climate change on the coffee industry, which the Asheville Citizen-Times details in a cover story.

♦ In partnership with Physicians for Social Responsibility, The Collider hosts an evening with Dr. Alan Lockwood, an author and physician speaking on the impact of climate change on personal health. Public radio WCQS interviews Dr. Lockwood in advance of the event.

♦ Climate Connection, offering radio programming through Yale University, broadcasts a story about The Collider that airs across the country.

♦ A book called Preparing for a World that Doesn’t Exist – Yet: Creating a Framework for Communities of the Future mentions The Collider in a chapter on “Creative Molecular Economy” (chapter review here).

♦ Collider member Bitwater Farms, whose innovations could revolutionize sustainable farming, is profiled in a cover story in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

♦ Middle school students with Asheville City Schools’ In Real Life program begin a weekly after-school career development program at The Collider, where they work with global climate experts to explore climate change solutions.

♦ The Collider and several of our member organizations have a significant presence at the Carolinas Climate Resilience Conference, serving as speakers and panelists, as well as exhibiting and presenting posters. photos

October 2016: TEDx, World Climate Week, and a new Executive Director – plus, a cross-city visit from the InnovateNC communities

TEDx Asheville at The Collider (October 2016).

TEDx Asheville at The Collider (October 2016).

♦ The Collider is the site of a sold-out crowd for the return of TEDx Asheville.

♦ During World Climate Week, Collider member Climate Interactive conducts a lively simulation of climate negotiations, held at The Collider with more than 50 individuals of all ages participating.

♦ Megan Robinson is named Executive Director of The Collider, responsible for day-to-day operations and internal strategic development of programming, membership, cowork, and events, having previously served as program and policy analyst for the Deputy Director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

♦ A New York City cowork organization ranks The Collider #10 among all the cowork spaces across the Carolinas.

♦ North Carolina municipalities awarded designation as InnovateNC communities gather at The Collider for a two-day cross-city visit to hear about Asheville and The Collider’s emerging innovation ecosystem in the climate services.

♦ Among the groups using space at The Collider for educational and training events are a company that produces software for the healthcare industry and Western North Carolina Nonprofit Pathways.

November 2016: UN Climate Change Convention in Marrakesh, plus visits from BlackRock and the ‘Dean of North American Building Science’

Marrakesh-427 Private Sector Perspectives Panel - 11.2017

Collider CEO James McMahon (left) is a panelist at a Marrakesh event during the UN Climate Conference. (November 2016, courtesy Four Twenty Seven)

♦ The CEO of The Collider travels to Marrakesh, Morocco for an event associated with COP 22 – the United Nations convention on climate change – to appear on a panel “Turning Climate Risks into Private Opportunities.” He is later interviewed about his experience for an international podcast.

♦ The Collider hosts a presentation for members and invited guests on the market opportunity for addressing climate change, featuring the head of climate solutions at BlackRock, Inc., the world’s largest asset management company.

♦ Collider member Climate Interactive, having recently returned from COP 22 and recognized nationally and even internationally as experts on climate policy, is interviewed by several major media outlets about the implications of the Trump presidency for climate action.



♦ The Collider hosts “Where Building Science Meets Climate Science,” a professional education symposium with more than 75 members of the American Institute of Architects and other building design professionals from across the Southeast and Eastern Seaboard. One of the most acclaimed and influential building scientists in modern history (described by Wall Street Journal as the “dean of North American building science”) serves as keynote speaker.

♦ The City of Asheville with help from Collider member NEMAC – UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center – drafts a climate resiliency plan, which is presented to the public and City Council members at an event at The Collider.

♦ Seasoned event planner Leah Donatelli joins the staff as Office & Events Manager, rounding out The Collider’s team of CEO James McMahon, Executive Director Megan Robinson, and Director of Communications Kathi Petersen.

December 2016: ‘Investing in Climate Resilience,’ plus a visit from the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force

Panel of Investors-Climate Resilience Investing

Investors from North and South America meet with climate solution providers at The Collider for an “Investing in Climate Resilience” workshop with the Inter-American Development Bank. (December 2016)

♦ The Collider partners with the Inter-American Development Bank and London-based climate consultancy Acclimatise on a daylong workshop, “Investing in Climate Resilience, providing Collider members the opportunity to present their climate solutions and introducing investors in North and South America to the growth potential in the emerging asset class of climate resilience ventures.

♦ Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Miranda A.A. Ballentine tours The Collider as part of a visit to Asheville.

♦ In a story called “Collider Sees Its Mission Take on Greater Importance with Trump Win,” public radio station WCQS conducts an extensive interview with the CEO of The Collider following his travel to the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh.

♦ The New York Times publishes an interactive “data story” with Collider member Climate Interactive that helps illustrate how President-Elect Trump can influence climate change.


♦ A crowd of nearly 150 gathers at The Collider to hear a discussion on the connection between climate change and the recent wildfires that burned more than 150,000 acres throughout the southeast.

♦ The Laurel of Asheville’s monthly sustainability feature story focuses on “The Collider: Meeting Place for Innovative Climate Ideas.”

♦ One of the largest ever PercCollider coffee hours takes place when local STEM educators join in on the networking, organized by our downstairs neighbor and partner, Asheville Museum of Science.

Looking Ahead: 2017 & Beyond

As of March 2017, one year after The Collider opened its doors:

More than 40 businesses and organizations are working from our beautiful top-floor headquarters in downtown Asheville, also known as “Climate City.”

More than 6,000 individuals have attended events at The Collider, not including personal meetings among staff, members, and their guests.

♦ The Collider has hosted and/or organized an average of 15 events per month in our venue space.

The Collider is expanding beyond the four walls of our building, welcoming members, supporters, and sponsors that may be located up the street, across the country, or around the world — not just down the hallway.

We’re looking forward to more opportunities to provide space for conferences, meetings, receptions, and an array of special events – from the monthly Beer City Science Pub with Asheville Museum of Science, to our climate and environmental film series with Oskar Blues Brewery, to our climate education seminars for professional industry groups such as the American Institute of Architects.

We’re thrilled about helping to bring astrophysicist and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson to Asheville on June 13 – just days after hosting Rear Admiral Dr. David W. Titley, retired from the U.S. Navy and now an advisory board member of the non-partisan security and foreign policy institute, The Center for Climate and Security.

♦ And for 2018….We’re already at work organizing Asheville’s first conference devoted to innovation in climate solutions – that is, the business of climate. Featuring activities for businesses, students, and the general public, ClimateCon, taking place in March 2018, will provide unequivocal proof of Asheville’s deserving global status as “Climate City.”